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Let Their People Go: Why Stop With Iraq?
Published on Thursday, January 29, 2004 by Ted Rall
Let Their People Go: Why Stop With Iraq?
by Ted Rall

During his State of the Union address, George W. Bush exalted the liberation of the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq from the tyranny of brutal and corrupt regimes. Bush recognizes that a lot of work remains to be done. "As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny, despair and anger," Bush said, "it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends."

He's right. If we really want to win the war on terrorism, we've got to stop sitting around the Sunni triangle picking rose petals off our Kevlar jackets. If we're serious about liberation as a tool of terror prevention, we've got to invade every dictatorship, topple every autocracy and occupy every patch of soil where evil tyrants oppress their people, especially in the Muslim world.

Job one: Saudi Arabia. The country's evil monarchy financed 9/11, bans opposition parties and forces women to wear the abaya (identical to the Taliban's burqa) and doesn't even allow them to drive. According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi Interior Ministry's General Directorate of Investigation subjects its political prisoners to "sexual harassment by threat or the actual practice [of] inserting an iron rod in the rectum." Bush says any dictator who runs "rape rooms" deserves execution. After we invade and replace his government with a democracy, therefore, George W. Bush should personally behead King Fahd (or stone him to death--these are the ways in which the Taliban-style Saudis execute their victims). Saudi Arabia is big but sparsely populated. Surely we have a spare 100,000 troops for the liberation of 23,000,000 Saudis.

Then, as Patton would say: on to the Arabian Sea! The long-suffering citizens of Yemen crave liberation from dictator Ali Abdallah Salih, whose vile Central Security and Political Security Office stormtroopers murder civilians at random. When an opposition candidate for local office dared to speak up recently, Salih's CS-PSO goons beat him to a pulp, shaved his head and bulldozed his house. Well, those days are over! We'll drive Salih into his local spider hole in no time. Then victorious U.S. troops can score some well-earned beachfront r-and-r.

While we're out democratizing, let's not forget those nasty little Gulf states: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are run by a bunch of slave-trafficking, election-banning, opponent-torturing, democracy-despising kings, emirs and sultans. We can take these despots out, easy--another 100,000 soldiers ought to do the job.

Of course, many republics of the former Soviet Union--places like Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan--are Saddam-style dictatorships still run by the same Communist Party thugs who oppressed people under a different flag pre-1991. They use the former KGB to spy on dissidents, who are found dead, clearly bearing the marks of torture, or are simply "disappeared" entirely. The citizens of these regimes would welcome liberation.

In October, says HRW, Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev "carried out a well-organized campaign of [election] fraud. [There was] brutal and excessive force by police to suppress demonstrations, severely injuring at least 300 protesters, and killing at least one protester. Police arrested close to 1,000 people, including national leaders of the opposition, local opposition party members, activists from nongovernmental organizations, journalists, and election officials and observers who challenged the fraud. [There were] numerous cases of police torture--through severe beatings, electric shocks, and threats of male rape against opposition leaders, particularly by the Organized Crime Unit of the Ministry of Interior."

Across the Caspian Sea in Uzbekistan--yet another Central Asian country where oppressive leaders steal the nation's oil wealth while most people make do on $20 a month--anti-corruption activist Ruslan Sharipov currently languishes in prison under the Uzbek regime's trumped-up sodomy charges. "During the first days of his detention," says Human Rights Watch, "arresting officers threatened Sharipov with physical violence, including rape with a bottle."

Charming fellows, our allies in the war on terrorism.

In neighboring Kazakhstan, independent journalist Lira Baiseitova published a story about Swiss bank accounts allegedly used by Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev to funnel stolen oil revenues. The next day, her 25-year-old daughter Leila "disappeared." One month later, she turned up dead in police custody. Cops said she had tried to hang herself--a standard "cause" of death in Central Asian jails.

And Turkmenistan's vicious Saparmurat Niyazov--"Grand Leader of All Turkmen" to his friends--has a new bag. An edict issued November 2002 forces internal exile upon "those people who have lost the respect of the nation, and who disturb the social tranquility with their bad behavior"--i.e., those who aren't his friends.

Admittedly, Central Asia spans four time zones. We'll need about a million troops to occupy the whole steppe, but what the heck--some analysts think the region will supply 80 percent of the world's oil in 25 years. It'll be worth it! Oh, and there's the liberation thing too.

Syria, Iran and Lebanon: add them to the list. All three nations jail and torture political opponents, censor journalists and threaten human rights organizers. Lebanon, like most of the other nations targeted here for regime change, censors the Internet--and uses it to ferret out homosexuals for future arrest. Allow 75,000 troops for Syria and Lebanon, plus another half million for Iran, and let freedom ring.

While we're taking out oppressive Mediterranean regimes, both Israel and Yassir Arafat's Palestinian Authority (news - web sites) have got to go. Israeli strongman Ariel Sharon (news - web sites), complicit in war crimes during the 1980s, is building a Berlin Wall-style "security fence" dividing Arab villages, employs child soldiers in his army and wants a law that would ban Palestinians married to Israelis from living in Israel. Meanwhile, Arafat treats public funds like his personal bank account, jails and tortures political opponents and stands by as his officials assassinate one another. To hell with the "road map"--both sides need an old-fashioned preemptive ass-whupping, American-style! (Allow another 300,000 occupation soldiers.)

A couple of million troops here, a few trillion dollars there, pretty soon we'll have this whole Middle East thing all worked out.

Then: Across to Africa.

After that: South America Libré!

And don't forget: Eastern Europe--free at last!

(Ted Rall is the editor of the new anthology of alternative cartoons "Attitude 2: The New Subversive Social Commentary Cartoonists," containing interviews with and cartoons by 21 of America's best cartoonists.)

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